Review by Ian McArdell
With meddling in his timestream, well known events from the Doctor’s past are reshaped in familiar, yet different directions. That’s the premise of ‘Regenerations’, the latest charity anthology from ChinBeard Books.
It is a remarkably clever concept, initiated by the first tale which sees Time Lord agents altering the events of ‘An Unearthly Child’ in order to ensure that the Doctor’s travels never took him to Skaro, never awoke the Daleks to the possibility of life among the stars and thus, never initiated a chain of events that would culminate in a devastating temporal conflict with the Time Lords.
Naturally, as with all things involving the Doctor, this intervention does not go to plan and so we are treated to a succession of revised stories; old tales becoming new. The Second Doctor’s trip to the Cyber tombs of Telos becomes an earthly affair, while ‘Day of the Daleks’ is refashioned into an all action epic: suffused with an impossible budget, there are aerial Dalek hi-jinks, surprising reveals and a pleasing cameo appearance for a couple of more modern faces.
One of the most interesting stories is Alan Ronald’s meta-reworking of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’; which in this continuity becomes ‘Terminus of the Daleks’ – a famous, celebrated tale acted out by Time Lord thespians as an annual ritual. As a young actor struggles to find “his Doctor”, we find familiar moments in the original given new meaning.
Not all the stories tackled are what you might call the popular classics, as both ‘Time Flight’ and ‘Time and the Rani’ get the Regenerations treatment, as does the divisive TV Movie – which is galloped though at pace with a single but substantive change, years ahead of its time.
Given its premise, ‘Regenerations’ is naturally a continuity-fest and it makes connections wider than just the television series, with nods to Big Finish’s Gallifrey and Time War characters in places. None of these references though, I would suggest, are too overwhelming as to confuse the more casual reader. It is also very funny, I loved the gags in ‘Enter the Rani’, which both suggested that the Doctor’s first two incarnations were colour-blind, as well as working in the titles of previous Rani stories into the prose. Additionally, ‘Shockwave’ offers a hilarious and far less dignified exit for Adric, as well as a small dinosaur on the rampage around the shops of Heathrow Airport!
Kenton Hall is the author of the first tale, as well as the linking narrative which plays out between stories as the War Doctor sets out to discover what has happened and put it right. It’s a cleverly crafted story with a pleasing conclusion and some lovely surprises along the way. Hall’s natural, free-wheeling prose style remains both comic and pleasingly idiosyncratic throughout.
‘Regenerations’ is a charitable endeavour, raising funds for ‘Invest in ME’, which gives me two reasons to recommend it; as well as being for an incredibly worthwhile cause, it is tremendous fun!
Physical copies have sold out but the e-book version can be ordered here: https://www.chinbeardbooks.com/apps/webstore/products/show/8156560
Check out Kenton Hall’s previous book ‘Bisection’